Showing Up On Instagram

Scott Bourne Photography on Instagram

Showing Up On Instagram

I must admit that I have not been the biggest fan of Instagram. Scott Kelby turned me around on this subject by reminding me that it is the only social network designed just for photographs. I believe Instagram has been helpful to a young, new crop of photographers, I think it’s been hard on the industry. And it’s not Instagram’s fault that it disrupted the photo industry, it’s the photo industry’s fault for not recognizing the threat and reacting to it.

I was going to say “reacting to it quickly enough” but that would infer that the industry HAS reacted. Unfortunately, it hasn’t really reacted at all and Instagram continues to help smart phone camera manufacturers make money while doing serious damage to the traditional camera market and the photo printer market.

Photographers show their portfolio on their phone now. We used to carry a book. (I still do.) The photographic print still has more impact but it seems that a large number of people don’t care.

So understanding the fact that you can either get on the train or watch it go by, I joined Instagram. I post there every day. I have only about 8100 followers there. (My Instagram account is @bourne.scott)

I have never bought followers (as some of my friends have) and accordingly, I tend to think that most people’s accounts show way more followers than are actually there. But I try not to think about that. I am merely taking my own advice and showing the work. Show the work. Show the work. Show the work. Show the work. Show the work. Show the work. Regardless of how many people are looking, show it anyway. It’s the one thing that has stayed constant in the 47 years I have been a photographer. The first step to getting paid or published is showing the work. So I try to do that everywhere. And it has paid off. I have licensed a few images as a result of my posting on Instagram.

Unfortunately, the way Instagram works keeps changing and it’s tough to come up with a strategy to organically improve your interactions there.

But there is ONE thing I have tried that works for me, anyway.

Using the right hashtags and using them in the right place.

Maybe everyone but me knows all this stuff and in that case, I guess I am wasting time. But in the hope that SOMEONE needs to know it, I’ll share the secret.

  1. Don’t post your hashtags with the picture. Post the first comment on your own picture and make that your hashtag home.
  2. Use the right hashtags.

I had to experiment for months with hashtags before settling on the ones I like. I don’t think these hashtags have been some sort of overnight success, but I have seen steady, organic growth – albeit slow, while using them.

Here are my hashtags….

#birdphotography #birding #birdwatching #bestbirdshots #your_best_birds #allmightybirds #birdstagram #birdlovers #nuts_about_birds #feather_perfection #bird_watchers_daily #birds #kings_birds #eye_spy_birds #birdfreaks #birdextreme #pocket_birds #wildlifephotography #birdphotographer #birdlover #ScottBourne #ig_discover_birdslife #ig_birdwatchers #bestbirds #birdplanet #avian #igbirds #bird_brilliance #bird #GetOlympus

You’ll note, that I have located the bird-related tags on Instagram, vetted which ones have the most traction, and then mixed in the tags with the big results with some hashtags that don’t have quite as many followers, but are very niche oriented. I also add my name. I don’t know if that helps, but someone told me it might. I also use the hashtag for my camera brand. Some might prefer to substitute another photo-related tag.

I post my hashtags with the goal that you will be motivated to use this example and go find your best hashtags. If you happen to be a bird photographer, feel free to copy mine as is – but you may want to substitute your own name for mine! Good luck.

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3 Responses

  1. Hello Scott,

    thanks for your insights regarding instagram. I may try out not to post the hashtags with the picture but with an own comment. However, I don’t know what the impact really is.

    It would be interesting for me to know what you think about image rights. As far as I know, instagram can use the pictures you post for its own purposes. Furthermore, users could take a screenshot of your images (of course with limited quality) and use it without permission. How do you ensure that you are properly paid for the pictures you post on instagram? Same question is relevant for Flickr and Twitter.

    Thanks and regards from across the Atlantic


    1. Hi Stefan unfortunately I have no idea what the law is where you live. In the US we have protection and Instagram cannot use your image without permission. There is a wheelbarrow full of misinformation on this topic available on the Internet. Only a real lawyer can give you the actual advice you need. Were you in the USA I could tell you what I do, but it would be of little help there. Good luck.

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